Oil Prices

By Andrew Billiter

The price of crude oil, seemingly stabilized after a lengthy period of precipitous decline, dropped again to $43 a barrel last week as global production continued mostly unabated, prompting the International Energy Agency to issue a warning that current oil storage capacity is reaching its limit.

In the wake of the original price crash, Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries decided not to cut back on production in order to protect their market share, despite entreaties by Russia to force an increase in prices. The end of the winter season in many parts of the world will also lead to the expected yearly drop in demand for fossil fuels, further distressing prices. While the average consumer benefits from cheaper fuel prices, according to The Economist, if the plunge pushes oil prices below $40 there could be a swath of oil company bankruptcies in the United States and abroad, threatening tens of thousands of jobs. Elsewhere in the world, however, especially in developing counties, low prices have led to a surge in demand for crude. In the United States, though, export restrictions cause oil production to sit in inventory, with approximately 458.5 million barrels stockpiled across the country, providing an ever-growing supply for stagnating demand.